Build an online site Presence on multiple social media platforms, websites and search engines is essential for any modern business. However, being part of the digital realm also opens the door to online complaints from unhappy customers.
It can be difficult to know how to handle a negative review in any environment, but with the added visibility of reviews online, the response you give will eventually weaken or strengthen your reputation. To turn negative feedback into a positive brand experience, follow these tips from members of the Rolling Stone Culture Council. Below they discuss what companies should do when they find themselves on the receiving end of an online complaint.
Determine whether the complaint is reactionary or specific
My team and I work to analyze complaints to determine if they are reactionary or specific. Is it someone who is annoyed with us as a whole, or someone who has had a specific experience? We tend to put more effort into responding to specific experiences, both working to validate and understand the experience, and then demonstrating how we are changing our operations in the future. –Aili McGill, Nickel Plate Arts
Respond as you would in person
We often forget that there are real people behind the reviews left online. You should respond to online reviews the same way you would respond to a customer in person. Your online response can be seen by a wider audience and can be an opportunity to get new customers by building a positive online reputation. – Ashley Deese, Ashley Deese, LLC
Tackle problems head-on
Don’t ignore reviews. Your best tactic for dealing with fake stories, disgruntled customers, or ex-employees is to approach them nicely and head on. It’s true that most people complain more than they praise, so use your voice to thank them for speaking up and kindly tell them that you’re doing better than what they described. – Nicole Rodrigues, NRPR Group
Thank them for their comments
Thank the person for their comments – even if they’re anonymous – and let them know you appreciate them. Most importantly, don’t get defensive or give explanations. Remember: the customer is always right. If you’ve taken steps to fix the problem, be very specific about what those steps are. If you know them, offer something for free. – Nancy A Shenker, theONswitch
Take the conversation offline
First, determine if the review is from a real customer. If not, indicate in your response that you do not have them as a customer and please contact you directly to discuss further. If it’s a customer, apologize for the problem and ask them to contact you (preferably a manager or owner) directly, and leave your phone number and email address in the response . Always take the conversation offline! – Matt Campbell, My Wedding Songs
Accept constructive criticism
Treat even the most negative reviews as constructive criticism. There is a dose of truth in every complaint. Do not worry about having a negative image and that a single comment tarnishes the reputation of your company. Respond professionally, look for that little bit of truth in negative comments, and navigate through this challenge. –Jacob Mathison, Mathison Projects Inc.
Get clarification on what happened
The first thing to do is try to get clarification on what happened and what led to the negative review. Once you know what led to the review, you should contact the customer via email to find out about their experience. Most consumers don’t want their name associated with a negative review; therefore, a call may motivate them to change the notice. – David Colonna, The Maven and The Muse
I view negative business reviews as opportunities to learn more about our business processes and if there are any hidden issues within them. I also respond professionally. If you respond positively to negative reviews, other potential customers will see that you are committed to satisfying their customers. It’s a process that turns negative criticism into positive learning. – Candice Georgiadis, Digital Day
Avoid anger or frustration
If you receive a negative review, always respond by first thanking the customer for their feedback. Never express anger or frustration. This shows the customer that their experience is more important than the company’s ego. This alone can go a long way in diffusing the situation and changing their perspective. – King Holder, PROCUSSION
Take responsibility for their experience
First, find where this problem has occurred in your organization and assess what happened. From there, it’s really important to recognize the customer’s experience and show publicly where you can take responsibility for it. Propose to the customer a solution to remedy the situation. Demonstrate to the client that you truly care about them and are seeking redemption. – Ginni Saraswati, Ginni Media
Respond to concerns with compassion and solutions
When you receive a negative review, it is important to respond to comments and concerns with compassion. Also, another important step is to report all the solutions you have already found if a mistake has really been made. Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and your business if you think you’re right. – Christian Anderson (Trust’N), Lost Boy Entertainment LLC